I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from everyone about the issue of changing the rules to help protect catchers from collisions at the plate. It sounds like the majority of the people I’ve spoken to wish that the rule would be changed to help protect catchers but, there are a number of people who feel that the rules are fine just the way they are and want to preserve the history of the game. Well, now it’s time for me to weigh in and let everyone know what I think!
In every level of amateur baseball (at least that I know of) malicious contact plays are illegal and discouraged. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t all witnessed a catcher getting run over though! I think in amateur baseball this rule is perfect…base runners shouldn’t be allowed to tackle catchers. If they decide to ignore the rule then they should be ejected from the game and follow league rules if there is a suspension involved. I don’t see how these malicious plays at the plate are good for the players individually, or baseball as a sport.
However, once we enter the ranks of professional baseball the rules don’t quite favor the catcher as much. Base runners are allowed to lower their shoulder into catchers and truck them. As a former minor league catcher, this isn’t as much fun as it sounds! I do think that the rules should be much more liberal in professional baseball than they are in amateur baseball, but there should be some type of rule protecting catchers, right?
My proposition is that professional baseball should follow the NFL’s lead. A few years ago the NFL issued rules that protect the quarterback. They don’t say that you can’t hit the QB, but there are penalties if your intent is to cause injury…I think that would work well in the MLB. Obviously, there is going to be some grey area on which hits are permissible and which ones are illegal, but this might prevent base runners from going out of their way to take out the catcher when there is no good reason to.
I think that if the catcher is COMPLETELY blocking the plate then the runner should be able to do whatever is necessary to score a run. However, if the catcher is giving the base runner a clear view of home plate some type of slide/dive should be enforced. I’m not even saying that they have to try to avoid the catcher, but they should have to slide. Feel free to slide in hard and put your spikes up, but slide!
It will be interesting to see how the MLB reacts…will they change the rule to help prevent Buster Posey type injuries, or will they continue to allow the catcher to be at more risk of injury than any other player.
I’d love to know what you think about this. Please leave a comment below, or on twitter or facebook!